MILLINOCKET, Maine — A Millinocket police officer who used a Taser on a fellow officer almost a year ago — an incident that drew an angry anonymous letter sent to several media outlets — will not be prosecuted, officials said Monday.
The most likely applicable charge, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said, is criminal use of an electronic weapon. That’s a Class D misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.
But Almy decided no charges were warranted after reviewing paperwork submitted by Police Chief Donald Bolduc.
“It was a matter taken care of through disciplinary action on the part of the chief,” Almy said Monday. “The intent of the parties involved was lacking. There wasn’t ill will here. There was no basis for using criminal courts to get into this any further.”
Also, the injured officer declined to press a criminal complaint, Almy said, but “even if he felt strongly about it, I would have had strong reservations about using the criminal courts for this.”
The Taser-wielding officer, a sergeant, drew a one-day suspension about 10 months ago. The Tasered officer was not severely injured. Almy identified the officers, but the Bangor Daily News is not naming them because no one was charged.
The letter describes the incident as hazing. Almy declined to characterize what happened.
Bolduc and Town Manager Eugene Conlogue expressed satisfaction with Almy’s decision but said they would not comment in detail on it until they received it in writing.
“I think the district attorney’s finding is correct,” Conlogue said.
“At the time of the incident, I was aware of the law, read the law. I didn’t feel it applied so I didn’t pursue it [as a criminal matter], and I am being told that I handled it correctly,” Bolduc said of Almy’s decision.
A Taser, or stun gun, is intended to be a defensive weapon police use to protect themselves or restrain others. It employs electrical current to produce neuromuscular incapacitation or powerful muscle contractions to subdue suspects.
According to an Amnesty International report issued in December, 334 people shocked with Tasers by law enforcement officers died in the United States between June 2001 and August 2008. Other organizations dispute those figures.
Postmarked Feb. 13, the anonymous letter was addressed to “Attorney General MacMaster,” a possible reference to Brian MacMaster, head of investigations for the Maine Attorney General’s Office. It has carbon-copy listings for John Rogers, director of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and three newspaper reporters.
When contacted by Bolduc when the chief became aware of the letter, the Attorney General’s Office referred the matter to Almy’s office.